FREMONT, Neb. – Midland University’s men’s basketball team overcame a 10-point deficit in the second half on Thursday night, but couldn’t hold onto the lead as it starts out the near year with a difficult loss.
The Warriors (4-10 overall, 1-6 GPAC) were held scoreless in the final three minutes and were stunned by the Jamestown Jimmies (11-5 overall, 7-3 GPAC) by a late three-pointer from Terrell Alfred.
“We had a lot of opportunities tonight,” said Midland head coach Oliver Drake, “but we just came up short against a really good Jamestown team.”
Alfred’s final three-pointer came with just three seconds left on the game clock and allowed the Jimmies to escape Fremont with a hard-fought win. Just 40 seconds prior on Jamestown’s previous possession, Alfred knocked down another three to tie the game.
In the final five minutes, the Jimmies outscored the Warriors 12-3 as each point during that span was scored from beyond the three-point line. Both teams let it fly from long range, and the second half is when shots finally started to fall.
Jamestown finished 14-for-29 from three while Midland went 12-for-31 from deep.
The first half saw a lot of back-and-forth action as both teams tried to play with bigger lineups and get the ball inside. Midland lead by as many as seven in the early going, but shots slowly stopped falling as Jamestown rallied back and took a 10-point lead with three minutes left in the first half.
Midland trailed by eight entering the break but steadily began to chip away at the lead. The big burst of offense came five minutes into the half as freshman Jake Rueschhoff got things started as he went the length of the court in transition before dumping off to sophomore Rayshon Hovaldt for an easy lay in to cut the lead to eight.
That play ignited the Warriors as they went on a 16-7 run that was highlighted by seven straight points from freshman Arturo Montes that cut the lead to 52-51 in favor of the Jimmies with 11 minutes to play. Shortly thereafter, Montes connected on another three to make it 55-54 Jimmies.
Montes finished the game with a career-high 10 points, all of which came consecutively during that crucial stretch of the second half.
The Warriors found new energy on offense and really started to let the shots fly. On back-to-back possessions with six minutes left, three-pointers from sophomore Bowen Sandquist and freshman Kylan Smallwood gave Midland its first lead of the half at 60-58 with six minutes to play.
Freshman Samuel Mailloux then gave the Warriors a six point lead with 5:15 on the clock, but shots from Alfred and Marc Kjos kept the Jimmies within striking distance and ultimately set up their 12-3 run to finish the game.
Alfred led the Jimmies with 21 points on 7-for-13 shooting from the field with each of his attempts being from three-point range. Brady Birch added to the Jamestown cause with a 14-point, 14-rebound double-double.
Mailloux totaled a new career-high 16 points to lead the Warriors in scoring while adding five rebounds. Junior Laurence Merritt was the only other started in double figures with 10 while Rueschhoff led the way with nine assists while adding two steals and zero turnovers.
“I thought Jake did an awesome job with nine assists and no turnovers. He’s really taking his game to another level,” Drake said. “Sam was aggressive all night at both ends of the floor, and Arturo and Ray gave us a great boost off the bench as well.”
Jamestown, who advanced to the round of 16 in last season’s NAIA National Tournament, is likely better than its record would suggest, and by no means should be considered a “bad loss.” However, with the schedule only positioned to get tougher, the Warriors need to find ways to finish out close games if they want to find their way back into the conference win column.
“We have to continue to learn from our opportunities and we will need to bounce back quick with Briar Cliff coming in on Saturday,” Drake said.
Midland continues conference play this Saturday, January 4, with a 4:00 p.m. game versus Briar Cliff at the Wikert Event Center